First Aloe/Aloidendron 'Hercules' Flower

 Small blooming 'Hercules' at Bird Rock Tropicals
 I think, but don't know for sure, that there are variations in Aloe aka Aloidendron 'Hercules', because some or many grown are from seed (It is A. barberae x A. dichotoma),  rather than being cloned.  Some look more like A. barberae, some more like A. dichotoma.   On our Bird Rock Tropicals visit, I was surprised to see a 'Hercules' barely three feet tall in flower, when my own 12 footer has never produced a flower.  Perhaps flowering varies as well. 

There were other larger 'Hercules' on the Bird Rock property, with many flowers. 

 Today I was out looking around the garden in the late afternoon, after finishing up some more cutting back (Salvia leucantha, the neighbor's Loquat that hangs over the fence).  
Huh...what's that?  Do you see it? 
 First 'Hercules' flower.  Must have been that inch of October rain we got. 
Happy surprise.  When did I get that thing...2010, I think.  Eight years to wait.  Which we did. 


  1. A happy surprise indeed! Congratulations.

  2. Ta-DA!!! How exciting. Here's hoping for more rain and more Herculean flowers.

    1. Plants are good at surprising us. Part of the fun. Rain is due tonight and tomorrow morning--the tubs and barrels are ready!

  3. Yeay! Congratulations! Gardening can definitely try your patience...

    1. Thanks. It tries mine at times, though plants and dogs are so much easier to get along with than humans are.

  4. It must be thrilling to see this bloom after waiting so long for it. It is pretty.
    Such a large plant, I wonder if it will get quite a few of these blooms or does it only sport one of them??

    1. It could get quite a few more, eventually. Bees and Hummingbirds will like that.

  5. *Sigh* My Hercules bloomed for the first time four years ago and hasn't bloomed since then. I guess it decided that blooming is overrated. I thought perhaps that I was to blame for not giving it enough water, so this summer I tried to give it a ton of water. So far nothing.

    Maybe when Hercules bloomed it overheard me saying that its flowers are underwhelming? I can't imagine Hercules getting its feelings hurt so easily.

    The only reason that I want Hercules to bloom is so that I can try and cross it with something like Aloe tongaensis. I'd really love to have a fast growing tree Aloe that makes a lot of low branches that I can attach smallish epiphytes to. The form of tongaensis is pretty perfect, the only problem is that it is so slow compared to Hercules.

    Right now I have a big Myrmecophila orchid happily growing on the trunk of my sad Aloe thraskii. The Aloe got too shaded, which made it susceptible to those darn Aloe aphids that the ladybugs don't seem very interested in.

    Anyways, you should come over and see my Aloe collection. I can give you a cutting from the cross that I made between Aloe tenuior and Hercules. Well, the father might also be dichotoma... or maybe even arborescens.

    1. Palms make excellent phorophytes, don't they? What about a yucca of some sort? Nice rough texture on a Yucca rostrata with a trimmed-up trunk. Not sure Aloes would be really prime for epiphytes, are they? What about a plicatilis hybrid? Those branch so nicely.

      I wondered if the October rain here coaxed 'Hercules' into flower. I was so very surprised to see all the flowers on the Hercules at Bird Rock Tropicals, even the small ones. Comments here and there led me to think Hercules just doesn't bloom that much. The Bird Rock ones apparently do.

    2. Lots of orchids are happy to grow on palms, but the palms do have a couple of drawbacks, most of them don't branch and they are soooooo slow. Plumerias, on the other hand, do have lots of branches but they are also so slow. Yesterday I visited my buddy Norm and he showed me some 6 year old Plumerias that he grew from seed, they were still in one gallon pots. There's a pretty good "cheat" though and that's to grow Plumerias from large cuttings. Then you can pretty quickly have a decent host for quite a few epiphytes. There are several other plants in the same boat, such as Cordylines, Dracaenas, Ficus and Aloes.

      I can't say that I have much experience growing epiphytes on Aloes, but so far so good. A plicatilis hybrid would probably be pretty great! Except, they sure aren't common. A few years back I tried pollinating my plicatilis with pollen from around half a dozen of my tree Aloes and I didn't get a single pod. Sheesh. I couldn't go the other direction because my plicatilis was the last to bloom.

      My Aloe pluridens, which is such a great Aloe and my first tree Aloe to bloom, just finished blooming and its two spikes are full of pods. I tried to cross pollinate it with my Aloe africana which seems to be blooming a lot earlier this year, probably because I watered the front more often than usual. What's kinda crazy is that africana has been in bloom for almost a month but the bees still haven't found it. Thanks to their oversight I've had plenty of pollen to use for the pluridens and variegated arborescens. The africana has a second spike about to bloom and a third spike just emerging. Despite my best effort the first spike only has one pod on it! :(

      Yesterday, before visiting Norm, I went to the Fullerton Arboretum for their succulent sale. It's been a long time since I've visited. After the sale I made a beeline for the desert section where I saw a really big tree Aloe. For some reason I didn't recognize it as Hercules... it had a few spikes about to bloom. I'm pretty sure that it's the biggest Hercules that I've seen in person. Have you seen it? It's maybe three times as big as the Huntington's. I wonder if the Fullerton's is the biggest one in California.

    3. I have an Oncidium flexuosum and some Tillandsia usneoides on an Acer palmatum. The orchid is doing well, too dry for the Tilly.

      Aloe pluridens is lovely, I think I need that one!

      I was at the Fullerton last April--must have seen their Hercules, but for some reason don't remember a thing about it. There must be some monsters in San Diego somewhere. Rancho Soledad had a biggie in a 60" box. Fullerton had several nice Alluaudias, all doing well.

      I grew some seedlings from deltoideodonta var fallax and from dhufarensis, just for fun.

      How was the sale? Did they have anything good?

    4. Of course I searched your blog for "Oncidium". Have the orchid roots jumped from the board to the tree bark? A couple months ago I attached a sad piece of Oncidium flexuosum to the trunk of a potted lantana. On the one hand, I really like the idea of the orchid and its host blooming at the same time and creating a lovely bouquet, but on the other hand I also appreciate having the plants bloom at different times so that the pot is colorful for a longer period. I'd super love to go to a show dedicated to "phorobanas" and see all the different epiphyte and phorophyte combinations.

      Which was the garden club that arranged the field trip that you purchased the orchid on? My friend and I recently started a garden club, of sorts, on Facebook... Village Green Thumbs. We just had a discussion about the quick group description that I had submitted today... she wasn't happy that I had put that the group was for plant lovers in west Los Angeles, given that some members, myself included, are from other areas. Anyways, if you scroll down you can see a couple pics of the Fullerton Aloe Hercules.

      I saw the Rancho Soledad big Hercules several years ago when I was there to purchase my Hercules. Haven't been to the nursery since then, but I'd really like to go again.

      You definitely need Aloe pluridens! The leaves have a rather translucent quality to them that I find so appealing. Plus, it's an optimal pupper, so you're definitely welcome to one, or two. :D And you're also welcome to some seeds.

      I used to have deltoideodonta but my friend liked it more than I did. Never heard of dhufarensis but it looks really nice, reminds me of the white Echeverias. Did you notice much variation among the seedlings? Lately I've been sowing in the same pot one seed each from around half a dozen different Aloes. Then when I give a pot of seedlings to somebody there's a greater chance of success. Well, the chances are even higher because I also include seeds from other plants such as Begonias, bromeliads, Anthuriums, Plumerias and so on. Hedging is the #1 plant rule.

      The sale was on the small side but it was a really good excuse to visit the gardens. I didn't end up getting anything but my friend got some nice Aloes... including tomentosa. Fuzzy flowers! Right now she has a Begonia blooming with fuzzy flowers... Begonia Metosa. I took some pollen from it to put on the flower of her crazy cool Begonia listada, which she just received from Norm's wife Candy.

  6. Congrats on that first flower. I'm just discovering Aloes, and haven't figured out the various species. I've planted a few recently in my garden, hopefully they will do well. Often the plants that flower seem to be in other people's gardens, but that's not a finding of a scientific study.

    1. They often take some years to get large enough to bloom. The flowers will happen, and the nectar-feeding birds will flock. Worth the wait! :) Check out

      Good information to be found there.

  7. That's really exciting! I've always thought 'Hercules' is a shy bloomer, but maybe not if the photos from Bird Rock Tropicals are any indication.

    My biggest Aloe marlothii is finally going to flower--it took at least 8 years. Sometimes patiences pays off!


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